Poor mental and physical health in pregnancy linked to infant sleep problems

October 02, 2019

Severe and persistent infant sleep problems in the first year are linked to poor maternal mental and physical health during pregnancy, a new study by the Murdoch Children's Research Institute has found.

The study, led by Dr Fallon Cook, found that it's very common to experience difficulties with infant sleep at some point in the first year, with about 60 per cent of mothers reporting mild or fluctuating problems. But for 20 per cent of mothers their infants sleep problems are both persistent and severe during the first year.

"These mothers were more likely to have poorer mental and physical health during pregnancy in comparison to mothers of infants with no sleep problems," Dr Cook says.

The findings show that for some, infant sleep problems may have more to do with mother's wellbeing during pregnancy than with parenting style.

Until now it was unclear whether it was possible to predict which infants will have sleep problems. The current findings, along with other emerging research, suggest that severe and persistent infant sleep problems are linked somehow to mothers' wellbeing during pregnancy.

Dr Cook says this is an important finding because parents of sleep-disturbed infants often feel severely fatigued, depressed and anxious, and worry they are doing something to cause their infants sleep problems.

"Our findings suggest some infants may be predisposed to have sleep problems, despite parent's best efforts to help their infant sleep better," she says.

"Identifying and supporting mothers with poor mental and physical health during pregnancy is crucial. These mothers may benefit from more intensive support once the child is born.

"Parenting an infant who isn't sleeping well is extremely hard. It's important that parents seek help from their GP or child health nurse if feeling depressed, anxious or exhausted, and reach out to family, friends, and local parenting groups for additional support."
-end-
The study was published in the latest Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, and followed 1460 women at 15 weeks gestation, and when their infants were three, six, nine and 12 months old.

*Publication: Fallon Cook, Laura Conway, Deirdre Gartland, Rebecca Giallo, Elizabeth Keys, and Stephanie Brown. 'Profiles and Predictors of Infant Sleep Problems across the First Year', Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics.

Murdoch Childrens Research Institute

Related Pregnancy Articles from Brightsurf:

COVID-19 has a prolonged effect for many during pregnancy
Symptoms for pregnant women with COVID-19 can be prolonged, lasting two months or longer for a quarter of the women who participated in a national study led by UC San Francisco and UCLA.

Relaxed through pregnancy
A group of researchers from Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin have been able to show that maternal psychological wellbeing during pregnancy has a positive effect on newborn infants.

Trajectories of antidepressant medication use during pregnancy
In an analysis of women who started pregnancy when taking antidepressant medications, investigators identified three trajectories of antidepressant dispensing during pregnancy: more than half stopped their treatment, a quarter maintained their treatment throughout pregnancy, and one-fifth discontinued it for a minimum of three months and then resumed it during the postpartum period.

Are women using e-cigarettes during preconception and/or pregnancy?
A new study of 1,365 racially/ethnically diverse, low-income pregnant women found that 4% reported e-cigarette use.

A better pregnancy test for whales
To determine whale pregnancy, researchers have relied on visual cues or hormone tests of blubber collected via darts, but the results were often inconclusive.

Cannabis use during pregnancy
The large health care system Kaiser Permanente Northern California provides universal screening for prenatal cannabis use in women during pregnancy by self-report and urine toxicology testing.

Questions and answers about cannabis use during pregnancy
A new study shows that women have many medical questions about the use of cannabis both before and during pregnancy, and during the postpartum period while breastfeeding.

The effect of taking antidepressants during pregnancy
Exposure to antidepressants during pregnancy and the first weeks of life can alter sensory processing well into adulthood, according to research in mice recently published in eNeuro.

Is ivermectin safe during pregnancy?
Is it safe to give ivermectin to pregnant women? To answer this question, researchers from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), an institution supported by 'la Caixa,' conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies that reported cases of accidental exposure to the drug among pregnant women.

Going to sleep on your back in late pregnancy
This study looked at whether going to sleep on your back in the third trimester of pregnancy was associated with average lower birth weights.

Read More: Pregnancy News and Pregnancy Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.